Zone: 0 in 2009
Thursday, 1st January 2009, 4:28pm (UTC), 5 Comments
Happy new year all. Just thought I'd take this opportunity to make an update on what's going on with the site and reassure you that despite not having updated since late August, big changes and new things are well on the way.

Since last summer I've been building up, essentially, a whole new version of Zone: 0 behind the scenes, with pretty much brand new code all the way throughout and more importantly, a massive new visual design that I've been an absolute perfectionist over, and I hope will go down well. Mostly, the text and structure of information will remain unchanged, but its presentation will be so much neater, more colourful and just about perfect!

But I've been on about this for ages now, and I'm sorry I've had to leave you all this time with an old, overly padded out, messy design (I can hardly look at the old Sonic 1 pages now without wincing - so disorganised!), while I've been enjoying building up a top secret, improved version. But I've had a couple of weeks off for Christmas, and as such have been able to dedicate most of my time to this project. I've managed to make massive progress on converting those tired old Sonic 1 layouts into their new dynamic, beautiful form, not to mention the first level for Sonic CD, Palmtree Panic. If I have time, I hope to include Collision Chaos in the big update bundle as well - it'd be a shame if we'd gone all this time without an update, and only have one completely new page to show for it (although thanks to all the time travel, it is a bit of a whopper).

So other than that and a whole new home page and blog system that needs sorting, there's still a fair few little niggling things to work out. But we're nearly there and I'm pretty excited, so I'm aiming to finally update and release "Zone:0.1" in about a month's time. If it's looking any later than that, I'll let you know but if I continue to make it my top priority, then I'd say that's a fairly realistic deadline.

As you'll recall if you read my review of Sonic Unleashed 360 that I thought the game was little short of fantastic for its daytime, pure Sonic thrill levels. Sadly, I cannot currently enjoy them as my XBox 360 has finally caught up with itself and suffered the red ring of death (a common overheating problem that happens over time and renders the machine unusable). I'm not surprised, just glad it didn't happen before I'd completed the game and spent a good amount of time with it afterwards. My three year warranty is only three or four months away from expiring, but microsoft don't seem to acknowledge the possibility that one might have moved house since purchasing the console, and the register and repair site won't accept anything other than my old address, which is rather inconvenient. Can't seem to get through to a human on their helpline either. Do any UK 360 owners happen to know a trustworthy red ring of death repair service in the London area? I'm tempted to just buy a new one, to be honest - at least then I'll be fairly safe in the knowledge that it should be ok from now on and straight away I can get back to replaying the likes of Cool Edge and Savannah Citadel to my heart's content.

Meanwhile, I've been slowly struggling my way through the Wii version, and, lets be honest, it's hardly a worthy substitute is it? I'm sure I'd be a little more enthusiastic if I didn't have the high-end model to compare it to, but to me it just lacks everything that made its counterpart so enjoyable. The daytime levels are about three quarters 3D, in which Sonic controls like a car, and until you master it, you'll constantly be bumping into stuff and ruining your own momentum. I'm not saying that 360 Unleashed didn't have control issues of its own, but the level design was so much more varied and interesting, and at least the controls were more free. The Wii levels I've encountered so far (I'm about half way through) are primarily just long, twisting roads with pretty much no platforming. They can be entertaining in their own way eventually I suppose, but they're vastly inferior in my opinion. The werehog levels meanwhile are of about the same standard, but with slightly more fiddly controls than on 360. One better idea that this version has is to break up those lengthy 30 minute full zones into three 10 minute acts. Unfortunately though you only ever seem to get three lives with which to try anything, which I suppose balances out that good idea. Don't get me started on the graphics either. Sonic Heroes, now five years old (as of two days ago, happy birthday SH) has better graphics than this. Its dull colours and jagged edges are put to shame by those gorgeous 360 buildings and landscapes, full of vibrancy and light - come on guys, even the Wii is capable of more than this!

I do feel sorry for the Sonic fans that have to make do with this because they don't have a 360 or a PS3. I guess you don't know what you're missing, and if it were me, I'm sure I could see the more enjoyable bits of SU Wii/PS2 more clearly. Make no mistake, the high and low end versions of Sonic Unleashed are hardly versions at all, rather they are separate games in their own right, as far as level design and control mechanics (easily the two most important factors), are concerned. Think of the differences as similar to those of Sonic 1 Mega Drive and Sonic 1 Master System/Game Gear. I think of those as different games entirely, and I'm tempted to classify these in a similar fashion. It's such a shame then that SU Wii has sold almost twice as much as SU 360. I wasn't keen on Secret Rings, probably won't be on Black Knight, so I won't personally be very happy if Sega decide that it isn't commercially advisable to put Sonic on the 360 any more. If that's the case, we may not see Sonic and his world looking as good as on high-end Sonic Unleashed for quite a long time to come. On the other hand, perhaps the Wii's more limited capabilities might just suggest the opportunity to make an entirely 2D, even sprite-based game that would allow for numerous, high quality, varied Sonic levels. If they start soon, they can make it in time for Sonic's 20th anniversary.

We can only hope. Have a great 2009.
Comments   5 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 2nd January 2009, 3:32pm
How do you get to sonic CD?Ican't find it!!!!!
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 2nd January 2009, 4:46pm
It's not available yet. Have to wait a month or so, sorry!
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 4th January 2009, 7:17pm
When this site is completely up to date it will be amazing and one of the places I will visit along with Sonic Roms!
#4. Comment posted by Diana on Sunday, 1st February 2009, 5:59am
Im excited about it. Been a Sonic fan since my days as a wee girl, making my dad beat the water levels for me.
#5. Comment posted by Anonymous on Thursday, 5th February 2009, 11:04pm
You said amonth till sonic CD!It's Feb.5 now!!!!!!!!
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We've finally done it! The Zone: 0 guides have reached their last big update. Owner LiQuidShade has new projects on the horizon, but this site will always remain in his heart.